President Barack Obama will send Congress his new $447 billion jobs bill on Monday and urge lawmakers to quickly pass it, a White House official says.
Mr. Obama will also travel across the country to build public support for the package he unveiled last week in attempt to jump start the economy and turn around his worsening political fortunes as he heads toward the 2012 presidential election.
Mr. Obama’s plan has to clear a politically divided Congress, which could scuttle it entirely or enact bits and pieces of it. As envisioned by Mr. Obama, state and local governments would receive $50 billion for transportation projects, $35 billion for school, police and fire department payrolls, $30 billion to modernize public schools and community colleges, and $15 billion to refurbish vacant and foreclosed homes or businesses.
It would mark the second, sizable infusion of federal cash to states in less than three years, coming just as they are burning through the last of the billions of dollars they received under the 2009 stimulus act.
The centrepiece of the plan is lower payroll taxes for individuals and businesses. There’s also new spending to hire teachers and rebuild schools, among other things.
Teachers, police officers, fire-fighters and others will join the president to call for passage, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity ahead of the president’s remarks.
Mr. Obama urged lawmakers to “pass this jobs plan right away.” But he left the responsibility for paying for the $447 billion plan to a special bipartisan House-Senate panel created to reducing deficits by at least $1.2 trillion over the coming decade. The panel’s top Republican wasn’t happy about it.
The jobs plan also calls for $130 billion in aid to state and local governments, providing either a welcome infusion of cash for those struggling with budget gaps, government layoffs and crumbling roads or merely a temporary patch for budget holes that are likely to remain long after the federal money runs out.
The perspective of governors and state lawmakers varies but often follows political affiliation, with Democrats generally praising Mr. Obama’s plan and Republicans remaining skeptical.
“It’s a no-brainer - Congress should pass the bill. Now,” said California Gov. Jerry Brown, a Democrat, whose state would receive some $13 billion for construction projects and teaching and public safety jobs at a time when it has the nation’s second highest unemployment rate.
Many Republican lawmakers and governors are less enthusiastic about accepting the federal money, especially if it locks in costs.
“If we’re given the flexibility to spend it as we see fit and not as they see fit, I could see some benefit,” particularly for long-delayed infrastructure projects, said Missouri House Budget Committee Chairman Ryan Silvey, a Republican. “I’m not a big fan of using one-time money for ongoing expenses. I think that’s what the state should be getting away from, not getting deeper into.”